New York Renters Strike in Potential Nationwide Rent Strike

At the beginning of April, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on all New Yorkers to strike against paying their rent. Whether they had money and could afford rent, whether they were working an essential job, or whether they were poor and couldn’t afford it, Ocasio-Cortez called for New Yorkers—and even the rest of the nation—to stand in solidarity against the idea of for-profit housing in general. The goal of the Congresswoman is admittedly to create a more social-based system of taxpayer-funded housing entitlements that she refers to as “free.”

Unfortunately for the chances of America’s economic recovery, there’s nothing at all “free” about the government having to foot the bill for housing for a nation with a population in excess of 330 million people, more people than Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden combined, with millions to spare. Economists are very frightened, outright alarmed, at these rent strikes, as they claim it could permanently damage the very fabric of America’s economy and entirely halt any semblance of economic recovery once we’re past the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The protest, called a strike, was held earlier today, Friday, May 1, primarily in New York, though there were pockets of protesters in other states. Some of the signs said things like “Cancel Rent, Cuomo,” calling on New York’s governor to allow all citizens to live rent free. Another sign read, “Free Housing is a Human Right,” which is an oft espoused principle of America’s young socialists who claim that, per their collegiate interpretation of Marxist theory, humanity can only thrive when all basic needs are freely given to all people to go beyond equality and reach equity.

All told, it is estimated that around 12,000 people showed up in New York to protest, across the span of 100 different apartment buildings, many of which are ironically Section Eight buildings where tenants do not have to pay rent in the first place; it is provided by government. The numbers were compiled and released by the advocacy group Housing Justice for All, who also acted as the primarily catalyst for organizing these protests.

One of the more outspoken protesters, Sean Reilly, stated that “I’m not [going to] lie, it is scary to [tell our] landlord that...we’re not going to pay rent.” Reilly, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, lives in a ritzy New York apartment with three roommates, also members of the same group, with a rent totaling $3,100 per month.

Republican opponents of these protests state that it’s awfully convenient that, by and large, these protests seem to be made up of members of the Democratic Socialists of America, and other ideologically similar groups. An anonymous source claimed that, “The same people always seem to want the same things, and they want them for free.”

Reilly, the outspoken protester interviewed during the protests, is ironically still employed, along with his roommates, and can afford rent. He just believes that, on political principle, human beings should not have to pay rent, and so he and like-minded individuals are taking to the streets in hopes of having their rent cancelled, along with their student debt waived and their work wages increased.

Economic Experts Worry

Economic experts are coming out against these protests for numerous reasons. None the least of which is the fact that, according to some, this is just a chance for socialist groups to ring their bell for “free stuff” while people in America are actually suffering. One economist alluded to the fact that it’s awfully strange that the people protesting the loudest are people who are in no danger of being homeless or not being able to pay their rent; they just want more money and want their student loans cancelled, and so they’re using the virus pandemic to get their message across.

Generally speaking, this is only a New York thing. The other locations where these protests erupted in much smaller fashion include Washington DC, Chicago, and other Democrat majority cities and metro areas. Most of America simply wants to get back to work. While a rent freeze is something most agree would be a smart thing in many instances, the idea of suddenly allowing all people to live rent free is a measure that most Americans agree will destroy the economy and bankrupt the nation almost instantly.

It remains to be seen if these protests will gain steam. For right now, it seems to be a rather small pocket of New Yorkers.

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